In his book “The Work of The Holy Spirit” (which is recommended reading by the way), Howard Winters addresses things the Holy Spirit does not do. A few of these he discusses are:
- The Holy Spirit was not given to benefit personally (that is, only the person involved) the one receiving it. What the Holy Spirit was given to do He did for all – He revealed to all the truth of the gospel. Yet in Neo-Pentecostalism the Spirit is sought, not for what He can aid one in doing for others, but for what He can do for the receiver. This misses the Scriptural purpose absolutely. There is no question but that the one who received a miraculous gift benefitted from it to some extent, but that benefit was not the primary purpose for which it was given. Except by serendipity, the gifts did not change one’s free will; they did not change his attitude; they did not remove desires or temptations to sin; they did not make one stronger in the faith (faith is an exercise of the human will, not the exercise of the Holy Spirit upon the human spirit); they did not make one less forgetful; they did not make one successful and happy. The gifts were always under the control of the receiver, and not the other way around. Those who seek miraculous gifts for personal aid grossly misunderstand His work. He was not given to benefit personally the one receiving Him.
- The Holy Spirit was not given to illuminate the understanding. And yet this is one of the works ascribed to Him by almost the whole religious world. The revelation of the gospel was given through those who received the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in apostolic times, but the receivers of the gifts had to exercise their own intellectual faculties to comprehend the revelation once it was given just as did those who received no miraculous gifts. The truth was revealed through them, but the Spirit seemingly did not aid their understanding of the truth revealed. The Holy Spirit revealed the will of God to man in apostolic times, and that revelation was recorded in the New Testament, and man must now exercise his own power of mind to understand it. Thus the Spirit was given to reveal the truth, not to illuminate the understanding of truth when it was revealed.
- The Holy Spirit was not given to make trivial decisions for man. While it is true that the Spirit did reveal to those possessing Him in a miraculous manner some of the places to go and some of the things to do and some of the people to teach (Acts 8), in no way could this be compared with making the unimportant and trifling decisions ascribed to Him by many today. It should be noted that when Paul was warned of the danger involved in his decision to go up to Jerusalem to the feast, the Spirit gave the warning but left Paul to make his own decision. Agabus, a prophet, met Paul, “And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.” (Acts 21:11.) Thus He warned Paul, but the Spirit did not work in him subjectively to influence his decision. The Spirit worked through Agabus and the spoken word. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was to reveal and confirm the truth. When the truth was made known, men were left as free moral agents to either follow it and receive the blessings or to ignore it and bring upon themselves destruction. Man’s actions are always by man’s choice -the Holy Spirit reveals what is right but man must choose for himself whether he will do the right or not.
There are many other things attributed to the Holy Spirit which He does not do today. For a further study along this line and the Holy Spirit generally, this book by Howard Winters can be found in our library or even online.
-Jerry D. Sturgill